Bribes for fussy kids can harm

Sunday Mail - - NEWS - SUSIE O’BRIEN

PAR­ENTS who of­fer their fussy chil­dren re­wards to get them to eat cer­tain foods may be do­ing more harm than good.

A new study of 416 Aus­tralian par­ents has found such tech­niques are com­mon among mothers and fa­thers.

How­ever, such tac­tics can lead to weight gain, make fussy eat­ing worse, and in­crease poor food choices.

Fussy eat­ing in­volves the re­jec­tion of fa­mil­iar and of­ten healthy food, usu­ally in pref­er­ence to “poor va­ri­ety and qual­ity of food in­take”, said lead au­thor Dr Holly Har­ris, of Queens­land Uni­ver­sity of Tech­nol­ogy.

Yet Dr Har­ris said fussi­ness with food was a “nor­mal and tran­sient phase for most chil­dren”, es­pe­cially in the first six years of their lives.

De­spite this, “the stress as­so­ci­ated with fussy eat­ing can neg­a­tively af­fect the child, par­ent, or child-par­ent re­la­tion­ship,” she said.

“Par­ents may in­ter­pret re­fusal of fa­mil­iar food to be fussi­ness or per­ceive the be­hav­iour as prob­lem­atic and – with good in­ten­tion – use feed­ing prac­tices that may not ap­pro­pri­ately re­spond to the child’s ap­petite,” Dr Har­ris said in the Jour­nal of Nu­tri­tion Ed­u­ca­tion and Be­hav­iour.

Dr Har­ris and her team found mothers had higher lev­els of con­cern about fussy eat­ing, re­flect­ing higher lev­els of par­ent­ing sen­si­tiv­ity.

“Neg­a­tive re­sponses from a child’s food re­fusal – ie, cry­ing, tantrums, gag­ging – may elicit dis­tress from the overly-sen­si­tive par­ent,” Dr Har­ris said.

Fa­thers used more per­sua­sive tech­niques but tended to be driven more by time pres­sures and prag­ma­tism as op­posed to con­cern about the child’s fussy eat­ing.

Thou­sands of Aus­tralian salmon school just be­hind the pop­u­lar Mid Coast surf break of U-Turns in this stun­ning pic­ture cap­tured by Dave Lane. The Port Noar­lunga South-based pho­tog­ra­pher and drone pi­lot spot­ted the fish from his home yes­ter­day and sent his cam­era-equipped drone out for a closer look. SEE THE AMAZ­ING VIDEO AT AD­VER­TISER.COM.AU

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